A Bitter American CenturyPolitics / US Politics Jan 19, 2012 - 06:40 AM GMT
Why the United States decided to enter World War I against Germany in 1917, with hindsight, is impossible to fathom from a geopolitical point of view. The US as a nation had no stake in a victory by either side, no stake in the war’s origin. By the time the US entered the war it had already become clear the war would end in a stalemate if the players stayed the same. A stalemated European war would have had little effect on the US, just like the many previous European wars during US history.
US history school lessons say the nation was attacked by the sinking of the ocean liner The Lusitania during the German naval blockade of British commerce. Yet, The Lusitania had been leased to Britain and quite likely was carrying many tons of ammunition for the British war effort sold by J.P. Morgan in New York. The Lusitania was sunk in a declared blockade. The Germans had paid for full-page newspaper ads in New York warning Americans not to make the voyage aboard The Lusitania into a war zone, the liner may be sunk. Some analysts conclude Winston Churchill, then the Lord of British Admiralty, must have directed his ship The Lusitania, full of Americans, toward the German u-boats.
The US Declaration of War by Congress claimed Germany had started a war with the US already, but does not provide a single detail. President Wilson’s address to Congress asking for war also failed to cite any specific US losses or any particular incidents arising from the German Naval blockade of Britain. The speech was as vacuous as it can be. http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/usawardeclaration.htm
In a war with many, many great atrocities committed by both sides, Germany’s sinking of a commercial liner and other US ships passing through a known blockade is not one of them. It is far from a reason for a great nation to enter war over.
No, US involvement in WWI was mostly due to a President, Woodrow Wilson, who decided he knew how to run the globe, even world war he had no experience with. He wanted to make the world safe for democracy and thereby establish lasting peace, all to be his achievement. He wanted to join Teddy Roosevelt as the senior partner in ending well over one hundred years of successful American foreign policy.
Wilson was enabled in going to war by the greed of Wall Street to finance and speculate and the ignorance and vanity of the US Congress in almost all matters. For these reasons 120,000 US servicemen died in European trenches and on the seas.
U.S. entry into WW I ended with the complete defeat of Germany, rather than a truce near the trench warfare line that had endured in the war for four years. The oppressive post-war Versailles Treaty embittered Europe more than ever. Germany was to be punished and wholly disarmed forever.
Within a generation after the war, with the degradation of a proud German people to near serfdom, Adolph Hitler seized power in Germany and eventually started World War II. In its own fit of potency, Hitler’s Germany declared war on the United States in the wake of Pearl Harbor. The US suffered almost 350,000 battlefield deaths in this war largely to finish World War I.
President Wilson, an Ivy League professor, had his dream of a League of Nations burn amid the savagery of Hitler and To Jo. His wild stabs at international law-making never did prevent a single war or accomplish anything worth having. His work at war and his wishful dreams may have doomed the world to a far greater war that still shapes our lives today.
No longer a newcomer to geopolitics, the United States emerged from WWII as the greater by far of two world superpowers. Rather than bring the troops home after the war, hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers remained stationed across Europe and Asia. Ever since, the U.S. military empire has grown: primarily now in the Middle East. The growth has had little actual connection to the need to defend the nation at home from foreign enemies.
The Soviet Union and its satellite nations, like so many flawed empires in the past, imploded due to a collapsing economy and the increased repression needed to stifle dissent. The fall had little to do with the military policy of other nations, the cold war.
Soviet archives show the last six Soviet dictators, from Khrushchev to Gorbachev, truly did wish to reduce the arms race and the rhetorical wars with the United States. President Ronald Reagan's famous spending spree on the military-industrial complex in the 1980's was not matched by Soviet leadership. The Soviet military budget shifted over time, but remained a near constant number during the 1980’s. When the smoke of the cold war cleared, it became evident that many of the Soviet missile silos feared by the CIA were in fact empty shells. It was primarily the United States that wasted resources on the cold war arms race as time went on, but also from the very beginning the record shows. By the end of his administration, big spending bully Ronald Reagan was a true believer in the Soviets, the extreme dove at the top of US policy: making any Cheshire cat grin ear to ear.
Then there was American involvement in the Vietnam War, an utter disaster. U.S. involvement was tied to an assumption later proven entirely wrong about overarching communist power: the domino effect. If South Vietnam fell, all of Southeast Asia and eventually the Middle East would fall to the Communist Bloc, everlasting tyranny. The lives of 50,000 U.S. soldiers were lost in the mistaken effort to block worldwide communism in Vietnam, along with the lives of as many as 1,000,000 Vietnamese soldiers and citizens.
After the US withdrawal in 1973, Vietnam had three land wars with China, hardly a communist monolith. Vietnam has yet to threaten the shores of the United States in any conceivable way, ever. Ho Chi Minh’s communist heirs rule Vietnam still today in harmony with the West.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States had every reason to bring all of its troops home finally and return to being another nation among many. Instead, the United States accelerated on the road to empire: engaging in warfare and saber-rattling across the world, injecting itself further into the affairs of all nations.
Nothing occurring in the Arab Awakening is threatening to the military security of the United States in any direct way. Revolution is, after all, how longstanding tyranny is dealt with by all societies in the end. If only it had been the Arab Awakening that brought Saddam Hussein down instead of a US invasion force.
What seems quite certain is these Arab nations will be consumed by their own chaos and conflict, highly unlikely to suddenly become warlike enemies to the West for no good reason. Indeed, after over fifty years of direct American involvement in the affairs and wars of the Middle East, no Middle Eastern nation has ever attacked the United States homeland. Except for Iran and Syria, all Middle Eastern nations still today are considered allies of the US. Iran has not attacked another great nation since the times of Cyrus the Great. Beginning with endless US aid for the brutal Shaw of Iran, the Moslem terrorism the United States has suffered has been caused by its own military adventures in the Middle East. US aggression in Moslem lands is the primary content for inspiring homicide bombers to kill Americans.
To suggest fear of a few 8th Century crazies should drive an American military empire is to fail to understand the historical meaning of the United States of America, the beacon of liberty and peace, but also the most fearless nation on earth. Hitler and To Jo were beaten from a standing start with no need for torture or puppet regimes. Such would be the fate of any nation or criminal gang that attacks the United States. Osama Bin Laden’s criminal network would have met its fate far faster from a free and peaceful US that is well liked by all other nations, just as the Barbary pirates found themselves during Thomas Jefferson’s day. Of course, Al Qaeda would have been bombing Tehran or Riyadh instead of Wall Street and the Pentagon, but for US military involvement in the Middle East for so long.
If America were to return to the foreign policy of George Washington by staying out of the many, many conflicts between other nations, advancing peace rather than war, practicing tolerance rather than vanity and force, providing an example of a truly free and peaceful people to the world, then the nation will have returned to its glorious role in world history. Then the century of US militarism and empire will have come to an end, Woodrow Wilson’s wars finally over.
Bring the troops home, all of the troops, as soon as the ships can sail. It is past time to defend the United States and all that it means.
Stephen Merrill is a trial lawyer practicing in Anchorage, Alaska. He was a founder of the Tidewater Virginia Libertarian Party in 2001, the most successful Libertarian Party affiliate in the nation. He is now a founder of the Anchorage Tea Party, Occupy Anchorage and an officer with the Alaska Libertarian Party.
Mr. Merrill is the editor of the Alaska Freedom News. http://FreedomNews.US
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